Trade criticises call for drinks calorie labelling in pubs

By Mike Berry contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Calorie information, Alcoholic beverage

The RSPH is calling for calorie labelling in pubs
The RSPH is calling for calorie labelling in pubs
Calorie labels for alcoholic drinks should be displayed on pump clips, menus and beer mats alongside the number of units a drink contains, according to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).

A new report Increasing awareness of invisible calories from alcohol​ (PDF) says two-thirds of the public actively support the addition of calorie labels on packaging, with the majority unaware of the calorie content of a pint of lager or glass of wine.

However, the report has been criticised by the trade, saying the move won't work in isolation.

The RSPH is calling for research to strengthen the argument for calorie labelling of alcohol in pubs, as well as in the off-trade and on PoS material, in a bid to tackle rising levels of obesity.

“Everyone should be able to see both the number of units and the number of calories in their drink before purchase, whether in a shop or a pub or restaurant,” the report said.

Effective

The body said it conducted an experiment in a pub to find out if displaying calories on drinks menus changed drinking behaviour. Those presented with calorie information each consumed on average 400 calories less than those who were oblivious to the calorie content of their drinks, indicating participants did use calorie information to inform their drink choices.

Watch the experiment

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers said the licensed hospitality sector was already playing its part in addressing a range of health-related issues and that the link between calories and consumption was far from clear cut when customers eat out.

“The sector has also undertaken a billion-unit pledge to reduce intake and strength of house wine and to promote access to soft drinks. These are all more effective measures to educate consumers about overall alcohol consumption rather than a message related just to calories,” said chief executive Kate Nicholls.

Partnership

The Portman Group – the responsibility body for drinks producers in the UK – said the industry took all health-related issues regarding alcohol very seriously and actively promoted and funded Drinkaware, which provides calorie information for consumers through apps and on its website.

A voluntary approach in partnership with Government had proved to be faster and more effective than regulation, it added.

A spokeswoman said: “Drinks producers can play a key role in informing and educating consumers and are open to further discussions about calorie information. However, it is essential that alcohol content, not calorie content, should primarily inform consumer decision-making.”

The European Commission is set to make a decision on the issue next month.

Survey

Should alcoholic drinks carry calorie labels?

  • Yes

    49%
  • No

    51%

Related topics: Healthy options

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5 comments

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Waste of Time

Posted by CC,

If people actually took any notice of this information we wouldn't have so many obese people in the UK! Food has carried this information for many years now and it's made no difference..........there are more obese people now than 10 years ago. FACT
All this will do is increase the cost of alcohol as there will need to be new labels, new price lists / menus etc produced......this all takes time and costs money.
This is just another way to create more for us publicans / brewers etc to do and enforce and another way for the Government to raise money out of us if they consider we've failed

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perhaps labelling won't work due to customer ignorance

Posted by J-M Rodriguez-Arganaraz,

The low level of reading standards in the Uk probably has more to do with the lack of efficacy of food labelling in the Uk. There are wide variations in calorie content between different lagers Stella Artois at approx 260 a pint and Carling at 170.

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It won't work

Posted by david,

I'm all for health advice in pursuit of people being healthy and hopefully living happier lives.

But if information doesn't achieve anything, it becomes just noise. And noise is irritating.

Food labelling has had no beneficial effect on obesity rates in the UK. So what will calorific labelling of drink achieve?

What might achieve something is instead of a GP shovelling out another batch of pills, he said to his patient: "You are 3 stone overweight, you need to (a) cut down on alcohol (b) cut down on your intake of food and (c) to take some regular exercise.

A pump clip that tells a customer that this brew is 190 cals per pint versus the next pump which is 188 cals per pint is not going to achieve anything. IS IT?

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